Do It Yourself Home Lawn Sprinkler Systems

Planning and installing your own yard sprinkler system is easier than you think. Not only is it easy to do yourself, it is also cost effective.

Planning and installing your own yard sprinkler system is easier than you think. Not only is it easy to do yourself, it is also cost effective. First, you will need to plan and measure the grassy area that will need to be irrigated. You will also need to find out some basic information about the water pressure of your home. Then you will draw your plans, deciding what types of sprinklers you will be using. Finally purchase the supplies, dig the trenches and put the system into place.

Measuring your yard is the first step in planning a sprinkler irrigation system. Using a measuring tape measure your yard and write it down. Double check your measurements for accuracy. If you make a mistake during the measurement phase you may have problems that escalate as you go through the process, such as dry spots and then dead grass. Draw out the area of the lawn on a piece of graph paper. You can use a scale of 1 square equals a square foot of yard. If you have a big yard, use 1 square equals five feet of yard. After you have measured and drawn the area of yard, draw in any other items that are within the yard. For example, draw in tree locations, a building or wall adjoining the yard, pools, planters and bushes. When planning your sprinkler system do not include any flower planters or shrubbery planters. Planters will be placed in their own watering zone.

Now you will need to determine the pressure of your water supply. Water flow is measured in GPM or in the amount of gallons of water running through your pipes every minute. The water pressure is measured in the pounds per square inch or PSI. It is important to know at least one of these measurements as you may not have enough pressure to run an irrigation system. In other words your system may run out of water before it gets through your entire system. You may have to consider a different type of sprinkler head or size of pipe to accommodate your water pressure. Smaller pipes are used for low water pressure. If you have a pressure regulator attached to your main water line you can check it for the PSI figure.

Now you will need to determine where to place your sprinkler heads and how many and what type of sprinkler heads you will be using in your system. The lawn area watered must be overlapped by the spray of each sprinkler head. If you have gaps of lawn that do not get water, the grass will die. This is not a waste of water; it ensures even coverage of the lawn. Wasted water will come from sprinklers spraying onto walkways, driveways, rock areas and other areas where you do not want water. You will need to place sprinklers in such a way where the yard is watered but not the surrounding perimeter. However, each sprinkler head spray should reach all the way to the other sprinkler head. When you purchase a sprinkler head it will have the radius of the spray on the label. The manufacturer will tell you if the sprinkler has a 12 foot radius or 15 foot. Never place a sprinkler that has a radius of 12 foot farther than 15 feet from the sprinkler head across from it. Some sprinklers have a radius adjustment on them so you can lower the radius. When choosing a sprinkler head look at the manufacturers chart to determine the pressure needed to supply water to that radius. For example the manufacturer will give the information for a 15 foot radius you will need 30 PSI.

The next step is to determine what type of spray head you will need for each sprinkler. You can purchase corner spray heads that spray ¼ or 90 degrees. You can buy sprinkler heads that can go up against a wall or a house that spray only ½ a circle or 180 degrees. You can buy spray heads that can go in the middle of the yard that spray 360 degrees or in a complete circle.

Planning the sprinkler pipe layout is your next step. Think about the layout of the yard and try to minimize the number of trenches you will need to dig to lay the pipes in. Running the pipes as efficiently as possible will save time, money and future breakage. If you can have two pipes share a trench this will also save work. There is no set way to lay pipe so work it out logically for your yard. One tip that is important to remember is to keep pipe 6 feet away from trees if at all possible. The roots make digging difficult as well as possible breakage of pipes if the tree gets bigger.

There are different sizes of pipe. Most people use the plastic PVC pipe that comes in a variety of thicknesses and widths. The thickness refers to the strength of the pipe or how heavy the plastic is. The width refers to the diameter or roundness of the pipe; there is ½ inch, ¾ inch, and then up to 3 inches or more. Most residential yards use ¾ or 1 inch. It is recommended that you use a heavy gauge PVC pipe for strength, so get the thickest one you can find for that size. This will ensure the pipe will last longer without cracking.

Once you have designed where you want the sprinkler heads and the most efficient way to lay the pipe to reach those sprinkler heads you can now dig the trenches. Using a shovel or post hole digger, dig trenches at least 6 inches deep. Figure out how many feet of PVC pipe you will need, and what types of connectors you will need. Connectors come in smooth or threaded. You should use smooth for connecting between the pipes and threaded just where the sprinkler head will be. You will need a 90 degree elbow for the corners; however they also make wider corners if you need them. You will need straight connectors and "T" connectors that are threaded for the sprinkler heads. Connectors are inexpensive so buy extra in case you need them. You also need a PVC pipe cutter that will cost around ten dollars. You will need the PVC pipe primer and the PVC cement. When shopping it is a good idea to purchase an extra length of pipe to have on hand for mistakes in measuring or cutting.

With the trenches dug, measure and cut the pipe and lay it in the trenches. When measuring keep in mind the amount of pipe that needs to go in each end of the connector, usually about ¾ inch on each side. Lay the pipe and the connectors in the trenches where they are supposed to be before gluing anything. Starting in the center, or at the farthest end, begin gluing outward until you get to the end. Prime each pipe with the purple primer wearing gloves to protect your hands. Brush the glue on the inside of the connector and then on the outside of each pipe. Push the pipe into the connector and give it a twist until it is in firmly. After all of the pipe is glued and in place let it dry 24 hours. Do not bury the trenches yet. The next day you can screw in the sprinkler heads and run water through the system. If a lot of dirt got into the pipes while putting it together it is a good idea to run the water through the system before you put the sprinkler heads on. After the dirt is out put the sprinkler heads on, turn on the water and check out the system to make sure all heads are getting the right amount of pressure and spray where needed. You can make corrections now if there are any problems.

If all is to your satisfaction you can now bury the pipes in the trenches. Occasionally you will want to check the sprinkler heads for proper spray. You should have years of service from your home sprinkler system.

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